Here are the street and location directories for Spengler, a Canton (neighborhood) in the fictional city of Albeit.
Category Archives: 4–The Eleven Cantons
This map (see PDF link below) shows a bird’s eye view of Spengler, the Canton known best for the allegedly cultist group that lives within it. Note the grid-like road pattern and standardized building plan for each of the four outer provinces, just one indicator that Spengler is all about standardization and efficiency.
(This map is part of my series on “Albeit,” a fictional city around which I am basing some fictional work.)
[This article about the "Regiment" is part of a series on the fictional city of Albeit, a location in which much of my writing is based. The Regiment is a group within a Canton (neighborhood) called "Spengler." It is one of 11 such Cantons in Albeit.]
Understanding the Regiment’s government
Kenneth Burchfiel fdHG
The Regiment, based in the Canton of Spengler, is unique from the rest of the city in plenty of ways. One of their most noticeable contrasts with Albeit proper, however, is the unique government they employ. Although every Canton has some form of regional politics, the Regiment has a system all to itself.
Within the Canton of Spengler lie five Provinces, each of which is then divided into nine Regions. The Regiment’s government, then, assumes three distinct Tiers: the regional, the provincial and the “Regimental.” It parallels the Local, Statewide and National system of American government,
The Regimental government and each province and region all have two main government buildings: a Political Quarters, which houses the politicians, and the Political Forum, in which the politicians converse with those below them. Each Political Quarters houses five leaders, meaning there is never one lone executive—even in the Regimental branch. Taking into account the number of provinces and regions, there are 45 regional leaders, 25 provincial leaders and 5 regimental leaders, or “Chiefs.” These 75 people comprise the entire legislative and executive branch of the regiment.
Each group of five leaders has three specific roles. First, they are obligated to listen to the advice of the lower Tier before voting on an issue. For example, if the Southwest province’s group of five is voting on whether or not to change the design of its traffic lights, they are to hold a hearing in the political forum in which Southwest’s 45 regional leaders try to sway their position one way or another. The general public performs the role of advisers for regional issues, allowing them some say in local legislation.
After listening to the advice and opinions of lower-rank politicians, the leaders then vote on the issues at hand. These votes are performed in the Political Quarters, meaning each group of five can decide major issues while eating breakfast or watching television. All votes are decided by majority rule, meaning nearly all issues are settled with just one round of ballots.
Finally, each Tier has the duty of electing the government positions above them. The citizens of a region vote for that region’s five leaders; each province’s 45 leaders come together to vote for the five provincial leaders; the 25 provincial leaders in Spengler vote on the five Chiefs of the Regiment. While this system of elections does not allow much in the way of public participation, it gives each group of five reason to listen to the advice of the lower Tiers; after all, they depend on the Tier below them for votes in the election.
There are more than 75 members of government, of course. The judicial system—independent of the executive and legislative groups—has a final authority in politics. Each group of five has dozens of office workers, secretaries, spokespeople and managers at their service. Nevertheless, it is these 75 executives, legislators and electors that comprise the core of the Regiment’s government. What they say and do makes a direct impact on the condition—and the future—of the Regiment.
A Canton on its Own
Spengler, as most would put it, is a city within a city. The Canton might be within Albeit’s borders, but for all intents and purposes, the people living within it are in their own town—or country, even. The “Regiment” is to thank for that.
As one Hauraki resident put it, “Spengler’s a little like the Vatican City of Albeit. It’s powerful, it’s prestigious, but you know they don’t have much to do with Rome.”
At the time of Albeit’s foundation, which occurred near the waning moments of the 20th century, a large group—they called themselves “The Regiment”—arrived from the Northeast. They had been looking for a place to establish themselves and increase their membership, and saw the Canton of Spengler as the perfect opportunity. Enough “Regiment Members” were there to fill all the construction, planning and architectural requirements, meaning the whole region was built by—and for—the same group of people.
Many have derided the Canton as a cult, saying the government should look into the practices that occur “within Spengler’s borders.” The fault with this reasoning is that it excludes the 30% of Spengler’s residents who have nothing to do with the Regiment, but who instead found available housing and chose to live there. According to those non-Regiment residents?
“It’s not a cult. It’s not overbearing. They’re normal people who just happen to be part of a society, like lots of Albeitians,” one Spengler resident said.
The Regiment is an independent group in the strict sense of the term; in other words, they do not depend on anyone. Members of the group handle everything from construction to education to financing, making Spengler seem more like a colony than an urban district. Within the Regiment, everyone is given an “Order” and a “Rank” within that Order, similar to what one might find in the military. These two items dictate social life within the commune, though not in the way many Albeitians might expect.
“People criticize us, saying that real families don’t rank people,” one member of the Regiment said. “Well, sure they do. The older siblings are treated with more respect than the toddlers. The most successful uncles command the most conversation at the family reunion. We accept that we’re not all equal, and that we all belong to different Orders, but our ability to accept and cherish our differences is what gives us such a strong family atmosphere.”
Unfortunately, these sorts of explanations rarely make it to Albeit proper. City residents know the Regiment mainly for the parades they orchestrate around Spengler, with many posting the “Cult marches” online and sneering at their militaristic atmosphere. Others might have attended a friend’s Rank ceremony, in which the person in question is promoted to a new level of respect and significance. What Albeitians never see are the humorous game nights that members of the group partake in, or the walks families enjoy around Spengler’s varied gardens. Such experiences are usually limited to reporters and wayward citizens.
The Regiment lives in a geometrically designed area, with four residential areas—named after their corresponding compass points—overlooking a central complex that houses workspaces, social areas, sports facilities, dining areas and utilities. Eschewing the subway, most members of the Regiment travel by underground walkways that connect their houses to the complex. In the winter, some members of the organization go months without having to travel outside. When they do venture into the public life, few Albeitians can distinguish them from the rest of the city’s residents; the order’s members are just as friendly, warm and engaging as anyone else within Albeit’s borders.
Slowly but surely, respect for the Regiment is increasing. The group’s distinct style of living embodies the independence and creativity that Albeit itself is known for. Until full acceptance comes around, however, the group’s members will have to deal with a general public that fails to understand their way of life.
[The first paragraph of this piece was written in the Canton's namesake, Chiyoda of Tokyo.]
Mention the name “Chiyoda” to anyone from Denver, and they’ll strike up a glowing conversation about its designer stores and development-rich avenues. Say the same thing to an Albeitian, however, and their response might be less than positive.
“I wish we could just pick the thing up with a helicopter and carry it off to a city that actually wants it. It would look great in Manhattan, or just about anywhere in Los Angeles.”
“You can just smell the jewelry. It’s repulsive. I wouldn’t touch the place with a 10 foot 24 karat, emerald-embossed, cologne-soaked pole.”
“What was that you said? I think you said, ‘football.’ That’s fine. I’d love to talk about football.”
Indeed, Chiyoda—the side of Albeit that fashion designers and celebrities know—has never been quite as popular as the other 10 Cantons. Just where did this Northwest district go wrong? Well, Albeit residents say, it was developed by a very prestigious design company that had gotten its bearings working on hotels in the Middle East. That alone was enough to make poeple wary. Worse yet, the developers gave luxury stores a subsidy on their rent in order to attract the “right kind of people” to Chiyoda.
The biggest blow came when the Globe, in one of its most famous sprees of investigative journalism, revealed that the developers were planning to build a barrier on the eastern side of the city. Why? To make sure that Graupel, then a crime-rich spot, would not leak vagrants into its rarefied borders. The red-faced management team pulled the plans, but Albeit had already made up its mind: this was not, by any means, a welcome part of the city. The only Canton in Northwest had, either from the Chiyoda Wall or the store subsidies, become the most-despised part of all of Albeit.
“Well, it’s honestly not part of the city, as I see it. I’d rather have the dunes to the south be a Canton than that consumer sinkhole,” one smoke-draped Slat resident expressed. “I mean, good heavens! They have an entire street—an avenue—for handbag shopping. Who does that? Who dedicates a street to handbags?”
“And the worst, really,” a woman said through a Noulevac window, “is that they act like they’re the better part of the city. I was just there the other day—wasn’t my choice, but they’re the only spot to get a TV repaired these days—and I hear a woman saying, ‘We’re the core of the city now, you know.’ Why, I wanted to go up to her and say, ‘Core? You’re a bloated Canton on the Northwest corner.”
Indeed, it can be hard to get a sense of the Canton through the less-than-objective mouths of Albeit proper. Perhaps the only thing to do is visit Chiyoda; to decide, amidst the supposedly obnoxious citizens and the supposedly snotty storefronts, if the Canton really is to be shunned.
On the outside, Chiyoda is not an ugly place. Wide, tree-stuffed avenues and sidewalks make up the core of the road network, eschewing frenzied intersections and mind-numbing road networks for a simpler pattern. Though Albeitians decry the Canton as a cookie-cutter development, it’s hard to overlook the colored bricks in the sidewalk, or the brick pedestrian bridges unique to the city. From an architectural standpoint, the Canton lives up to Albeit’s traditions of creativity.
“We’re not evil. We’re not obsessed with money,” a purse-less Chiyoda woman says. She points to the sidewalk. “See? We like art. We like aesthetics. We’re with Albeit on that one.”
Nor does Chiyoda seem to fit the picture of materialism and indifference from the inside. Next to a jewelry importer, there sits a teddy-bear store that regularly donates toys to a thrift store in Graupel. Children with smoothies can be seen running and laughing in front of a financial institution. Residents of Pacfyst might be surprised to know that Chiyoda, too has a block devoted to charities and social services. The department stores are visible, but their presence is not an overpowering one.
“I’ll take some friends from Graupel shopping, and they’ll be like, ‘Wow, that’s not the kind of store you see in Chiyoda.’ But I always try to explain to them that it is. We might have a little more money than the rest of the city, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be compassionate. It doesn’t mean we don’t eat hot dogs, or buy toys for our kids. There are playgrounds here, too.”
Granted, there are still divisions between Chiyoda and its neighboring Cantons—Chiyoda Wall or not. There is not as big an emphasis on creativity here, if only because those who are have since relocated. Very few secret societies have caught on. Neighbors rarely communicate, but not out of a secretive or mysterious streak; they simply have little interest in what those living alongside them are doing. Indeed, many who move here acknowledge that Chiyoda is lacking in some of the themes—independence, originality and mystery—that the city is known for.
Of course, there is some hypocrisy in the “mainlanders’” efforts to debase the Northwest Canton. Albeit has always claimed itself free from the exclusiveness and pompousness of other cities, yet the degrading of Chiyoda would say otherwise.
“How many times do I get someone on the Aluminum Line who says to me, ‘Unlike you people, we don’t judge someone by the clothes on their back?’ And how many times do I reply, ‘Aren’t you judging me by the Canton I come from?’” I love this city—I really do—but the people don’t realize how bigoted they can be.”
The exchange of words between Albeitians and Chiyodians is sure to continue, no matter what plans the developers have in mind. One will always be the cosmopolitan trash heap of fashion stars and business owners; the other will be the defender of originality and free living.
That, at least, is how the divide stands in the eyes of most Albeitians. But it would do the city well to peer out from their apartments and realize that there is no wall between one Canton and the other; that the barrier is purely mental.
Despite their differences in lifestyle, bank accounts and values, it’s not out of the question that Albeit can learn to embrace its purse-toting neighbor. Until then, the crosstalk with Albeit’s wealthiest Canton will continue.
Noulevac’s long-in-the-making map weighs in at a hefty 27.5 megabytes. If your browser can handle it, click for a look at Albeit’s densest Canton.
Noulevac: A Canton of Mystery—4E
Every city has its center. Every metropolis, village and town has a “downtown” to call its own, a place said to embody the very traits that the area is known for. For Albeit, this “center” is not just a geographic dot on the map but the cultural heartbeat of the entire place. Its name is Noulevac.
A good chunk of the area within Albeit’s city limits can be classified as “downtown.” Unterwalden, Phoebe, Graupel share that designation, which means an extra subway line and higher-density housing and office space. Noulevac, then, is the downtown of Albeit’s four downtowns. As the only “landlocked” Canton, it’s surrounded by city on every corner and serves as a hub for the region as a whole. This makes it a government and transportation hotspot, of course, but nobody thinks of the Canton in terms of roads or bureaucracy. They see it as the standard by which all other Cantons are judged; the epicenter of the cultural and intellectual earthquake that Albeit has come to embody.
Noulevac was not always as prominent as it is today. At the onset of the city’s development, Unterwalden and Phoebe—the commercial and residential centers of Albeit—stole much of the show. Many predicted that Noulevac, a mixed development that lacked Phoebe’s high-density apartments or Unterwalden’s skyscrapers, would soon become dormant as residents moved elsewhere.
Such claims were based on the assumption that Albeitians are like all other city dwellers: that they care only about tall buildings, skylit shots and fashionable neighborhoods. Noulevac boasted none of these, but what it did offer was the very thing that most Albeitians look for: a place where independence and originality are valued over conformity and the mainstream. Noulevac is famous for its “creative camaraderie,” an atmosphere where writing, art, design and other right-brained activities are valued and appreciated. Unterwalden drew in the businessmen, but Noulevac attracted that odd breed that enjoyed creating over earning. It is no secret which Canton became more popular citywide.
It would be a grave mistake, however, to label the district as “bohemian,” “cosmopolitan” or even rebellious. Noulevac is not the stereotypical “art district” for private college students. 70 percent of its residents are between the ages of 30 and 60; the remaining 30 percent, surprisingly enough, are mainly senior citizens. The people who live and work here don’t follow trends as much as they do their creative whims, resulting in a Canton whose dress and residences seem to belie their right-brained nature. Fashion-oriented? No. Avant-garde? Few “Vaccies” even know what that means. Passionate and committed to developing their creative abilities? Yes, say the Canton’s residents.
At the same time, Noulevac’s 60,000 inhabitants aren’t always prone to share their work with the world. Many describe themselves as introverts through and through, in the sense that interaction takes second fiddle to introspection. Residents can go decades without knowing (or understanding, at the least) the people who live next door. This, in part, is why the area has come to assume the title of “Mystery Canton.” Noulevac is the Canton that started the tradition of secret societies: groups that work together on creative projects while keeping their work shielded from the outside world. Some of Albeit’s most legendary societies base their roots here, although—not surprisingly—few can gauge the full extent of Noulevac’s secret society involvement. All that can be said is that the majority of the residents are affiliated with at least one mystery group, in-Canton or otherwise.
Even the district’s design has generated some interest. Urban planner Bernardo Focelli never did reveal why he gave the Canton its seemingly arbitrary name, or the derivation of the street names for the city’s two crossroads: Ekspiotoc and Ewtenpia. At least one society is said to understand the meaning.
There is no limit to the cultural symbols with which people can define Noulevac: the A-frame houses that much of the Canton lives in; the interconnected buildings (either by skybridge or tunnel) that secret societies have built; or Noulevac Park, a garden whose chief draw is the elaborate wood-wrought castle in the middle. The beauty of the Canton, though, is that all one-dimensional labels tend to fall short. The only way that one can truly understand the district is to spend a little time in the area, to interact with the shyly brilliant inhabitants, to receive a “Letter of Invitation” from one of the district’s secret societies. Then, and only then can they come to see the full cultural and creative extent of the Canton called Noulevac.
Hauraki: Albeit’s Best-Kept Secret
Hauraki, as the Globe’s online editor Sieb Henderson once said, is one of those Cantons that an Albeit native can go their entire lives without visiting. To some extent, this is true. The Canton lies at the southernmost edge of the city, bordered only on the northern side by a part of Albeit. In many respects, it stays isolated from the rest of Albeit; nobody considers it a major transportation hub, commerce hub, dining hub, shopping hub or residential Hub. Even the mayor of Albeit in the late eighties, wondered if he wouldn’t do best to “Shave off Hauraki and make the number of Cantons a clean ten.”
A funny thing happens, though, when people enter the region for the first time. As it turns out, Hauraki is not just an extraneous blob on the city map, but a community filled with as many attractions—if not more—than the other 10 Cantons of Albeit.
An old rumor goes that Hauraki was the last region to be awarded to an urban planner; nobody wanted to design what appeared to be the most secluded area in all of Albeit. This much is true: those who created the main blueprints for Albeit weren’t sure if the Canton needed to exist. Southeast already had three regions to call its own; the city was already, as the joke goes, with a clean 10 neighborhoods. Ironically, this debate over its purposefulness led to Hauraki getting the lion’s share of city projects. By the time Albeit’s chief planners decided the city needed a university and a football stadium, the other Cantons already had their designs finalized. Hauraki was the only place left to build.
And so, even a satellite picture of the area reveals some enticing destinations. Hauraki is not only home to Albeit You, a university that hangs dear in the memories of many residents, but of all the main sports complexes and stadiums in the city. One of the Canton’s best-known landmarks is Canepa Park, a 70,000-seat stadium built entirely underground. Residents walking on the glass ceiling above can watch Alball and football games played out a few hundred feet below. Canepa and the University take up much of the region’s area, though space remained for a few other important developments. No trip to Albeit is complete without an elevator ride atop the Fanning Tower, a 260-meter structure that lets residents make out the southern edge of Montana. As if this weren’t enough, the city has the only major golf course in Albeit.
With all this in mind, it would seem that the only people who bother to enter Hauraki are height-lovers, Alball fans, college students and golfers. One must not forget about the residents themselves, who might just be the city’s biggest attraction.
Hauraki started out as the least populated Canton in all of Albeit. In the decades to come, though, it grew denser and denser as people flustered with the changing face of Unterwalden and Graupel started to migrate there. Haurakans tend to embody the “Central Tenants” of Albeit: Independence, creativity and a little mystery sprinkled here and there. They are known especially as an artistic base, with almost all residents experienced in some shape or form with the brush, pottery wheel or chisel.
What separates the Canton from other creative regions (Pacfyst and Spengler, to name a few) is its residents’ tendency to work together in groups. As one resident explained, “Here in ‘Raki, we actually talk to our neighbors. We go out to dinner with our neighbors. If one of us has a cool idea, we enlist the help of our neighbors.” Few secret societies exist in Hauraki, chiefly because one’s fellow residents are usually happy to work with someone on a project. Many proud Haurakans call their namesake the “Interconnected Canton,” and it shows: the majority of the area is more than happy to help one another.
Though Albeitians are known as religious people, the sentiment is especially strong in Hauraki. One of the most vibrant religions in the area is Quakerism, which almost a third of the region identifies with. When Haurakans aren’t searching for the Inner Light, they can often be found out in the streets with a pair of Alball rackets, an easel or simply themselves.
Hauraki, thus, isn’t just the Extraneous Canton or the Unnecessary Canton. It’s the Creative Canton, the Interconnected Canton, the Active Canton, the Educated Canton and the Observant Canton—in more ways than one. If it weren’t also the Southernmost Canton, perhaps more of Albeit would come to appreciate it.